Friday, April 27, 2012

I'mmmm baaaack .....

Hard to believe that I've taken four YEARS off from this kind of work and from this poroject. But I am back with a new project and renewed interest. In 2005 when I started working with digitizing Shelley's Perkin WarbeckI was struck by just how limited the role of digital humanities could be for an average professor at an average university. Unless it became the focal point of a program or initiative, unless it was the VISION of someone very influential high in the food chain, this was not going to be a project or set of projects that got very far. Excitingly, to me, this is changing. More and more institutes and conferences are making access to information more possible for moderatelky or poorly funded institutions. I for example will be attending this year's DHSI in Vancouver, where I will spend 4 glorious days living in a dorm and focusing on pedagogies that utilize DH. For my test case I am going to bring a gift book from 1833 or maybe the short novella from Blackwoods titled "Letters from the Peninsula." "Letters" and its author Hamilton were supposed to be the focus of my sabbatical... the sabbatical that vanished and was replaced by a semester as a new administrator ... Not sure how I feeel about that yet, but that is probably the focus for a different blog ... or maybe not. But it's not the focus for today because I am out of time and need to help my kids get up and ready for school. Or go for a run ... or do something ... Vale!

Friday, April 25, 2008

So far, the Digital Humanities Project is going fairly well. I am working with Julianna doing the poems “A Night Scene” by Mary Shelley and also “The Death Song” by Lititia Elizabeth Landon. We struggled at first with just trying to work the Wiki and make everything appear as we would like. We have the poems posted, as well as the images and a link to their bibliographies on Wikipedia. We are still lacking the themes, introductions, and about the authors.

Our DHP is almost complete. We are only lacking the theme and introduction for the Mary Shelley poem. We also need to do a little more research outside of Wikipedia for information about the authors and their lives. Other than that, we are almost finished with our DHP. I have learned quite a lot from the making of the webpage, as far as the codes and things, but also more about how to analyze pieces of literature. I think that the Web of Mind is a very interesting site and a good site for learning more about different works.

Our DHP is finally finished! I think that this is a really great assignment because you learn so much about technology and also the topic/author that you are researching. The stories in the Keepsake are things that you wouldn't normally get a chance to read unless they were online like this, so I think that it is a great idea and way to preserve these stories by posting them on the wiki. While I struggled in the beginning as far as figuring out the technology portion of this assignment, I came out with a greater knowledge and understanding not only of the wiki, but of my literature as well.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The road was long and difficult but thankfully it has come to an end. Despite how insane this project made me at times, it was a really fun and innovative way to do research. I think it would be fun to explore this type of research in other classes. It is beneficial to know how to work with that sort of technology. It was a great challenge, I have become quite adept at writing research papers, and this threw me for a loop. It was more engaging then a typical reasearch project and really gave me a sense of accomplishment in the end. It is something that I can take friends, parents, etc. to actually see. The idea of being a published on the web is quite exciting. I would really like to continue researching and updating my project. It is nice to have the option to go back and add to it. Once you turn in a term paper, it is over, this leaves the door open for you. I wish that I had not waited so long to get into it, because once I did I really enjoyed the process. I alowed the two things that really impeded my progress to weigh me down and influence the way I handled the project, mainly avoiding it. The only tedious aspects of the project for me were as follows: A) I had such a hard time with the scans, in fact I am still not sure where they are or how to get them to be where I want them to be & B) My author was really obscure and painfully hard to research. I am so impressed with other student's projects, everyone seems to have done a really great job and put a lot of time and energy into it. I'm very proud to have been part of the Web of Mind. However, for now, I'm excited to be finished! Happy Graduation to all you seniors!
The overall project was a success I thought.  It was very frustrating at times but turned out to be very nice.  I could have used a whole other class on web design  to be able and figure everything out.  All in all the amount of information that was posted about each story for everyone's project was really awesome considering the amount of information given by the keepsake book.  Being that there was no authors for most of the stories turned out to make for a difficult research project but it was doable.  It was a pretty cool project.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Whoa...this whole code thing has really gotten me frustrated.  It's taken me a while to get the hang of what I need to do to make something bold or indented or whatever.  I was more happy with editing stuff than I was trying to put it in the project.  The first time I tried to type up the text from the book it came out a mile long which was not cool at all.  It's a good thing I have a level headed partner who understands this stuff a lot better than I do. Overall, the whole thing has turned out really nice.  I think it's cool to see what everyone else has done along the way.  I've learned alot about research and editing a web page through this DHP project. -Brett-
I am finally done with my project!

Honestly the entire process was interesting as well as helpful. I’ve always liked messing around with html and codes, I mean who doesn’t? We live in the age of MySpace and Facebook. Not to say that this process will help me improve my MySpace, but it has definitely helped me improve my understanding of html. It has also helped with understanding how Wikipedia works. I think prior to this project I thought there was some head honcho who made sure everything was legitimate. Now I kind of see that it’s not exactly the number one source for information because anyone can post on it, even me. Especially since I now understand how to do it!

I am especially excited about sharing my work tomorrow. Well only really the biography portion in relation to her story. I think it’s pretty neat that even in a three page story I could trace the characters in it back to her life. That’s my favorite part of literature. I like to piece together the lives of the author into their stories. Every one of their stories, short or small I believe is a piece of their life, a piece of a greater understand of something that they wanted to pass on. Maybe they don’t scream it to you but the under lying messages are always there. Even with a less well known author like mine I was still able to find similarities.

It’s so interesting to know that we are making history, documenting the authors of the past. I think at first going into the project I thought it was going to be a huge work load but the fact that we had to keep updating on where we were kept me going strong, and with great rewards.

I know I am posting late, but honestly I was having the hardest time figuring out what my blogger info was. My apologies.

- Anastazia
Wow! This was a huge undertaking. It is the last week of class and I'm still not finished. I think my partner and I will be proud when it's done, but it just seems like a lot of work. I like the concept and I'm glad that I was forced to do this, just maybe not during the one semester of my student career that I'm carrying 18 credits. Bad timing? Maybe?

As far as the process, I guess it is a good process. I like that I had the entire semester to work on this. Deadlines for this are kind of unrealistic, so it's good that I had four months to work in little chunks.

The finishing touches are coming along. I hope it turns out well. There was so much work going into this that I hope I can be proud of this. It'll be over in a few hours.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

'Ello Web of Mind readers. Professional blogger Karen here. Yesh all I ever seem to do these days is blog, though blogger is not my drug of choice. Sorry!

It appears I have finished with my DHP, which is both a relief and a little disappointing. It was a fanastically fun job, and I really think all English scholars should be required to do something like this at some point. I worked solo, but I think it could be a great teambuilding exercise, The project also gives students experience working with HTML, which is a tricky medium indeed. And the opportunity to work with such an old book was a real finger-tingler too. (I just made that up but I'm rather fond of that phrase. I think I will use that when I refer to good books or exciting moments. Finger-tinglers.)

But more importantly, this is what English is all about, isn't it? Research, documentation, writing, and showing off your work. It is so awesome to think we've contributed to this big archival project that could really take off. I wish I had done more of this in my years here at RU (as short as they were) or that I had an opportunity to do this in the future. Just think! Maybe students will be using WoM for their own research and giving us credit! Very nifty indeed. I don't know about you guys, but my goal in life is always to have my work widely read, even if it's academic work. It's so cool to imagine people going over something you worked hard on and using it simply because it is, well, useful!

Getting used to the HTML and forcing Wiki to do as I command was frustrating and took a lot of time; I'm glad I did the bulk of it in the beginning of the semester when I wasn't as busy and had time to learn by trail and error. Maybe in the future we could have a class day or two working collectively on the project and asking questions and benefiting from what others had done before us. I think we did do that once, way back in the semester, but I think it would have been more useful if we did it when the project was first introduced.

One thing in particular you asked us to reflect on was the question, "Is anything lost--or gained--by putting books into a digital media?" This is something I've considered long and hard. Frankly, I love books. I love the way they look. I love the weight in my hands. I love curling up in bed with one, or sitting in a tree, or lounging on the dock, or smuggling one under the table during a particularly heinous family dinner. I love the way the paper feels, and the gloss of the cover, and hell, the smell, yes they smell and they smell wonderful, like story and dust and memory, and those are all good things.

As a student, though, I like electronic media, mainly because I can use the search function to find words, phrases, or chapters easily. (I confess, my electronic copy of "Heart of Darkness" was quite useful for this, as I could find all mentions of voice and language at the touch of a few buttons, instead of flipping pages.) I can also access the texts from any computer lab, usually for free (I confess, there are often books I don't want to spend money on in college, particularly large anthologies, so e-texts are friends for the penny-pincher). But I don't think electronic books should ever replace tangible books. Libraries are too beautiful. I want a book, dammit, a real book to cradle and dog ear and set on my desk. I want to watch the pages yellow and curl, and I want to reread old favorites and laugh until tears roll down my face. I don't want an electronic book. I just want a book.

So that's my take on that, because I do feel rather passionately on it, and a few pretty sentences came out of the whole mess. I feel quixotic today, as you may be able to tell. Overall, it was a cool project, and I'm glad I got the opportunity. I really hope you use this for other classes, or that other teachers use it as well, because this is really an important part of being an English student.

Good luck to everyone for their end of the year projects, and hurrah for those of us finally graduating!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

So Jena and I finally finished our project! What a relief! Though some of the technical aspects of it were tricky for me along the way, I had Jena to help me figure things out and was able to work through any major issues I had. The tale we've chosen is pretty neat, not to mention easy to work with. It's kind of inspiring to know that people will use our project for projects or study of their own at some point. I feel as if we've helped to preserve something that could otherwise have been lost. As our author was anonymous preserving his/her tale Two Brothers, A Tale seems a tribute to a man or woman who left behind no other legacy, not even a name. In today's technological world I suppose preserving old literary works within various databases is necessary but I would be lying if I said I didnt feel as though something gets lost in the moving of the text. Holding such an old book helps the reader to adapt to the time period of the tale. It seems to increase the connection one has with the characters. Though I'm happy works will live on through technology, perhaps vastly elongating their life-span, it saddens me that books cannot be as indestructible. There is something so satisfying about holding an old book. Its like holding a piece of history. I really like the way Jena and I presented our tale. It think we did a good job at helping the reader connect with and understand the plot as well as the characters. It was frustrating, tedious and time consuming but at the conclusion of it all I'll have to admit I feel accomplished and am proud of the work we've done.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Yay! I think I'm about done. I have like one more thing to add to our page. Starting out this entire project was so difficult. Being a technologically challenged person I found it very difficult but thanks to the advise of my peers and by looking to their pages as guidance it actually came together pretty well. This page is something I think my partner and I can be very proud of. By working together and with our classmates we were able to make a page of scholarly information for the anyone with Internet access to view. How cool is that. As much as I dreaded this throughout the semester it really just took some diving in, exploring, and trying different things to get done. I think it looks really good too, very official. It was neat also to see what others did and just to be able to see the contents of Keepsakes. Such an old piece of literature, I think it is important to restore and publicize it in any way possible considering it is such a quiet piece of literary history. I have enjoyed this project, now that I actually know how to use the program and it is almost completely done. I look forward to showing it off to the class and others.